I76 A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
reserve, describing in detail the symbolic dramas and public festivals which were always associated in the public mind with the Mysteries, and which were merely of a ceremonial nature, but refusing to divulge the inner seciet rites, of which he remarks: "On these Mysteries, which are really without exception known to me, I must guard my lips in religious silence."
Let us turn next to the pages of Plutarch, the biographer.
"When you shall hear of the fables the Egyptians tell about the gods—their wanderings, cutting to pieces and other mishaps —you should not suppose that any or them happened or was done in the manner related. Nations have established and do employ symbols, some obscure, some more intelligible, in order to lead the understanding into things divine. In the same way must you hear the stories about the gods, and receive them from such as interpret myths, in a reverent and philosophic spirit.
"Af the moment of death the soul experiences the same impressions as those who are initiated into the great Mysteries.
"Those common and trivial stories of people who identify the legends concerning these deities with the seasonable changes of the atmosphere, or with the growth, sowings and ploughings of the grain, and who say that Osiris is then buried when the sown grain is hidden in the ground, and that he comes to life again when there is a beginning of sprouting; let men take good heed and fear lest they unwittingly degrade and resolve divine beings into winds and currents, sowings and ploughings and affections of the earth, and changes of the seasons.
"The Mysteries were intended also to preserve the meaning of valuable passages in history."
This is but a hint, all that Plutarch feels he may divulge, but its full meaning is that the inner history of Atlantis and its fall was told to the initiate.
He gives the psychological purpose of the Mysteries in his treatise De hide et Osiride, wherein he says:
"While we are here below, encumbered by bodily affections, we can have no intercourse with God, save as in philosophic thought we may faintly touch him as in a dream. But when our souls are released (by the Mysteries) and have passed into the region of the pure, invisible and changeless, this God will be their guide and king who depend on him and gaze with insatiable longing on the beauty which may not be spoken of by the lips of man."